Monday, December 01, 2008

Poznań International Climate Change Conference Begins

Dec 1: The Poznań, Poland Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) begins today (December 1) and will conclude on December 12. The major international conference, the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC and the 4th meeting of Parties (CMP) to the Kyoto Protocol will draw an estimated 11,000 participants, including government delegates from the 187 Parties to the UNFCCC and representatives from business and industry. The conference provides the opportunity to draw together the advances made in 2008 and move from discussion to negotiation mode in 2009, building momentum towards an agreed outcome at Copenhagen in December 2009.

At COP14/CMP4 in Poznań, the Parties are expected to: Agree on a plan of action and programs of work for the final year of negotiations after a year of comprehensive and extensive discussions on crucial issues relating to future commitments, actions and cooperation; Make significant progress on a number of on-going issues required to enhance further the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, including capacity-building for developing countries, reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD), technology transfer and adaptation; Advance understanding and commonality of views on "shared vision" for a new climate change regime; and Strengthen commitment to the process and the agreed timeline.

The two-week meeting is the halfway mark in the negotiations on an ambitious and effective international climate change deal to be finalized in Copenhagen in 2009. Parties have little more than a year to agree on strengthened action on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. A compilation paper of proposals for solutions has been put together. The paper is expected to serve as a first version of a negotiating text in Poznań. UNFCCC indicates that because of the limited time still available, "it is critical that real progress is made and that Parties identify which proposals to take forward in 2009." The more than 700 pages of proposals have been distilled into a single document of 82 pages, which governments can now refine further in light of what they want to negotiate in 2009.

Briefing the media on the opening day of the conference, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, emphasized the crucial role of finance in reaching a long-term solution to climate change. He said, “Advancing the commitment of industrialized countries is intimately linked to enhancing the engagement of developing countries.” He indicated that Poznań would show progress on ongoing work under the Convention and allow Ministers to present their vision of long-term cooperative action. His expectations for the meeting included the launch of the Adaptation Fund, as well as significant advances on technology transfer, the CDM [Clean Development Mechanism] and the issue of deforestation. De Boer highlighted two important signals received in 2007 -- The IPCC report [
See WIMS 5/4/07], confirming the reality and impacts of climate change; and the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change [See WIMS 10/31/06], which said failure to act would equal economic failure on the scale of two World Wars and the Great Depression combined."

De Boer indicated that, “The conference needs to deliver on on-going issues, especially issues that are important to developing countries. And there is huge pressure on available time up to Copenhagen in 2009. So next to on-going work, the conference also needs to lay a solid foundation for an ambitious climate change deal at Copenhagen.” Discussing the global financial and economic crisis and the opportunities of green and sustainable economic growth, de Boer urged the delegates to, “increasingly focus on how the climate change regime could become self-financing and to link climate change policies to economic recovery.”

Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Dr. Paula Dobriansky will lead the U.S. delegation to Poznań. Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) James Connaughton will join in representing the United States at the high-level portion of the conference on December 11-12. Chairman Connaughton is a senior advisor to President Bush and his personal representative to the Major Economies Meetings on Energy Security and Climate Change. Ambassador and Special Envoy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Dr. Harlan Watson will serve as the alternate head of the U.S. Delegation during the two week negotiation. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Sustainable Development Daniel Reifsnyder will serve as a senior member of the U.S. Delegation. U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe will also attend the high-level segment of the conference.

Access a release on the opening of COP14 (
click here). Access the COP14 website for extensive information including links to all conference documents (click here). Access links to live webcasts of the meeting sessions (click here). Access the U.S. State Department website on the COP14 meeting (click here). Access complete detailed day-by-day coverage from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) (click here). [*Climate]